Protecting Your Health While Trail Running
It is no secret that running can lead to many injuries. There even are illnesses known as the runner’s knee, for example, showing how big of an impact this type of activity can have on us if not done properly. And that’s if we’re speaking about running in general. Trail running specifically presents individual challenges as well as benefits when it comes to health, and it is worth considering them separately if you’re looking to get into this specific type of running.
Get Good Shoes
And by good I certainly don’t mean expensive. I mean shoes that are designed for the type of running you do, for the type of terrain you are exposed to and that are properly fitted to your physical characteristics. When it comes to trail running, they should be snug, have a more aggressive tread and potentially be waterproof.
Increase Everything Gradually
I know you are eager to start putting in those miles, but when it comes to trail running, measuring your workout in numbers goes way beyond simply measuring the distance – the altitude, the surface, the weather conditions all have to be taken into account, thus the increase that you will see your mileage will be significantly lower than you would if you had been running on a treadmill all this time. Same applies for heartrate, muscle engagement and other factors or a successful run – take it slow, increase gradually and you’ll see better results in the long run. Except for stretching – stretch as much as you see fit!
Get Some Gear
I’m not talking about shoes or shorts here, although those are pretty important. I’m referring to a backpack with a bladder which you can fill up with water so that you can drink it from a tube that comes down your neck. All of us know how difficult it is to drink while running, let alone on a forest trail, where you can easily trip and fall, and backpack bladders make this so much easier to avoid. A sports watch shouldn’t be out of question as well. Making sure your workouts are in a healthy range entails ensuring your heart rate is not constantly peaking. Sunglasses are not just an accessory; if you’re running outside on a sunny day, you’ll want to see your trail well and protect your eyes from direct sunlight.
Have an “in-advance” and not “post-factum” mindset
I’ve seen a phrase somewhere that I liked very much, which went along the lines of “aim for prehab and not rehab”. Even if you don’t feel any kind of pain, use foam rollers constantly to release muscle tightness and allow your muscles to recover more easily. Also, if you feel like your knees could be your weak spot, get kinesiology tape. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to permanently damage your knees while jogging, and that can surely be avoidable if you start using the right equipment in advance and not when you start seriously hurting!